Imagine a world without plants. We rely on them for everything, yet they are often overlooked. Now, thousands of plant scientists, botanists, farmers and gardeners from all over the world are coming together to share their Fascination of Plants, and Leeds is playing its part too.
On Friday May 18th the importance of plants on our planet will be under the spotlight worldwide. The first International Fascination of Plants Day, launched under the umbrella of the European Plant Science Organization (EPSO, Brussels), is bringing together more than 450 institutions in 39 countries to celebrate the role of plant science in the social, environmental and economic landscape now and into the future. The University of Leeds will be holding a special event in The Light Shopping Centre on The Headrow in Leeds city centre, featuring displays of plants known and not so well known, such as cassava, wheat, tomatoes, miscanthus and vinca. The aim is to demonstrate how these crops contribute to our daily lives, not through food, but in energy, textile and drug production. The event will also feature a show hive of bees to highlight the crucial and often overlooked role that pollinators play in our world, and all visitors to the stand will be able to pick up packs of wild flower seeds so they too can take part in celebrating plants at home.
Local schools will be in attendance, giving children the chance to find out more about these fascinating plants, and to start making the connection between the growing plant and where our food comes from.
Professor Christine Foyer, Director of the University's Food security, Nutrition and Sustainable Agriculture hub, believes it's vital we highlight the role of plants in our everyday lives:
"There is a global challenge to deliver nutritious, safe and affordable food to a population of over 9 billion using less land, fewer inputs, reduced waste and lower environmental impact. However, without plants there is no significant life on earth - other than microbes. From the air that we breathe to the water and food that sustain us, we owe it all to plants. Events like this can really help bring the role of plants to life for children and adults alike."
The Food Security, Nutrition and Sustainable Agriculture hub at the University of Leeds is a new initiative that harnesses a wide variety of research expertise to address the global challenges of food security. The Hub brings together experts in plant bioscience, environmental services, ecosystems services and pest control. The hub also examines waste reduction, packaging and storage, livestock agriculture, nutrition and food stability.
Fascination of Plants events are happening all over the country. From the space age Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre to the ancient Stonehenge landscape, events will explore how we share our planet with plants. Universities, plant research institutes and botanic gardens will open their doors to let the public explore basic plant science, agricultural research, environmental conservation, biodiversity, education and arts.
The public, journalists and the media are invited to explore laboratories, visit greenhouses, field sites, museums, and other exhibitions. Cambridge University Botanic Garden will explore the power of plants to provide food, drugs, energy and more. Cardiff University are providing tours around their plant science labs and hosting talks, debates and exhibitions, and there will be a chance to visit Thanet Earth, the largest glasshouse complex in the UK.
Edwin Chen, Wellcome Trust (Jul 2016), £98,341
Stefan Kepinski, Michelle Peckham, BBSRC (Apr 2016), £461,760
David Brockwell, Sheena Radford, BBSRC (Apr 2016), £358,570
Ryan Seipke, BBSRC (Apr 2016), £340,536
Neil Ranson, Mark Harris, Ade Whitehouse, Peter Stockley, Sheena Radford, Alan Berry, Wellcome Trust (Mar 2016), £1,000,000
James Duce, Alzheimer's Society (Mar 2016), £84,834
Thomas Edwards and colleagues in the School of Chemistry, EPSRC (Feb 2016), £2,228,732
Patricija Van Oosten-Hawle, Wellcome Trust (Feb 2016), £89,900
William Hoppitt, EU (Feb 2016), £34,345
Mark Harris, Thomas Edwards, John Barr and colleagues from the School of Chemistry, Wellcome Trust (Jan 2016), £204,959
Katie Field, BBSRC (Jan 2016), £830,381
Alan Berry, Alex Breeze, Adam Nelson, BBSRC (Jan 2016), £479,490
Sarah Calaghan, Isuru Jayasinghe, BHF (Jan 2016), £52,050
Paul Knox, BBSRC (Jan 2016), £40,000
Andrew Smith, Rosetrees Trust (Jan 2016), £20,000
Richard Bayliss, Cancer Research UK (Jan 2016), £10,000
Richard Bayliss, MRC (Jan 2016), £8,000
Richard Bayliss, BBSRC (Jan 2016), £8,000
Joe Cockburn, Royal Society (Dec 2015), £14,960
Katie Field, Royal Society (Dec 2015), £14,700
Stephanie Wright, Kay Kendall Leukaemia Fund (Dec 2015), £207,286
Zahra Timsah, Royal Society (Nov 2015), £15,000
Jessica Kwok, Wings For Life Spinal Cord Research (Nov 2015), £134,981
Alan Berry, Wellcome Trust (Oct 2015), £752,365
Julie Aspden, MRC (Oct 2015), £633,020
Steve Sait, NERC (Oct 2015), £386,061
Urwin, Howard Atkinson, BBSRC (Oct 2015), £200,293
Helen Miller, ABNA Ltd (Oct 2015), £115,000
Mark Harris, Royal Society (Oct 2015), £74,000
Eric Hewitt, Andrew Macdonald, Yorkshire Kidney Research Fund (Oct 2015), £46,621
Christine Foyer, Royal Society (Oct 2015), £12,000
Dave Westhead, Bloodwise (Sep 2015), £664,109
Ade Whitehouse, Alison Ashcroft, Ian Carr, BBSRC (Sep 2015), £438,975
Shaunna Burke, Andrea Utley, Sarah Astill, Arts Council of England (Sep 2015), £80,594
Samit Chakrabarty, Ronaldo Ichiyama, Intl Foundn for Research in Paraplegia (Aug 2015), £93,000
Helen Miller, Agriculture & Horticulture Develpmnt Brd (Aug 2015), £63,560
Tim Benton, M & W MACK LTD (Aug 2015), £48,711
Eileen Ingham, John Fisher, EPSRC (Jul 2015), £1,458,439
Anastasia Zhuravleva, BBSRC (Jul 2015), £483,019
Alex O'Neill, MRC (Jul 2015), £249,822
Ade Whitehouse, Richard Foster, Cancer Research UK (Jul 2015), £201,034
Ronaldo Ichiyama, Jim Deuchars, Sue Deuchars, Wings For Life Spinal Cord Research (Jul 2015), £123,895
Helen Miller, ABNA Ltd (Jul 2015), £22,968
Martin Stacey and colleagues in FMH, MRC (Jun 2015), £426,475
Adrian Goldman, Sarah Harris, Roman Tuma, BBSRC (Jun 2015), £420,693
Elwyn Isaac, EU (Jun 2015), £238,915
Christine Foyer, BBSRC (Jun 2015), £160,401
Adrian Goldman, EU (Jun 2015), £116,331
David Brockwell, Sheena Radford, Innovate UK (Jun 2015), £113,378
Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso, EPSRC (Jun 2015), £93,672